Dr. Becker with his award,
a piece of pottery shaped like a fish.

Georgia River Network Names Becker
2010 Volunteer of the Year

The Georgia River Network named Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the University of Georgia’s James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, as its 2010 Volunteer of the Year Award recipient at its annual conference in February on Jekyll Island.

The river advocacy group cited Dr. Becker’s activities as founder of Friends of Barber Creek and creator of the blog Oconee County Observations in selecting him for the award.

“It is not a stretch to say that Lee, who is both a professor of journalism and a 21st-century citizen journalist, has changed the landscape in Oconee County,” Dana Skelton, director of administration and outreach at Georgia River Networks, said in announcing the award on Feb. Feb. 19.

Dr. Becker created Friends of Barber Creek in 2006 to represent the creek’s interests as the county discussed a storm water ordinance, planned for expansion of a sewage treatment plant and zoned numerous properties along the 26-mile creek that flows through the middle of Oconee County and along the rear of the lot on which Dr. Becker lives.

Dr. Becker also started Oconee County Observations in 2006 as a way of transmitting information about issues confronting the creek. The blog has developed into a e-electronic newsletter featuring reporting and analysis on a broad range of governmental issues in the county.

Oconee County is adjacent to and west of Clarke County, which is where the University of Georgia campus is located. Dr. Becker lives in Oconee County.

In addition to directing the Cox Center, Dr. Becker is a professor of journalism and regularly teaches basic reporting and writing classes at the undergraduate level. The Cox Center is the international outreach arm of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Georgia River Network honored Gordon Rogers of Albany, Georgia, as Conservationist of the Year, calling Rogers a “stalwart of the river protection community in Georgia,” and the Coos River Basin Initiative of Rome, Georgia, as the Watershed Group of the Year because of its “advocacy, education, restoration and water monitoring programs.”

Approximately 100 persons attended the two-day conference at the Jekyll Island Convention Center on Feb. 19 and 20.

Jekyll Island, a barrier island south of Savannah on the Georgia coast, is a state park.